April 2003 #5

We Don't Talk About The War

The gloating has begun in earnest. "When will you lefties and peaceniks apologise" we are asked. "You got it wrong" they apologists for the illegal invasion of Iraq scream at us.

But did we. Sure, there are some in the "peace" camp who have folded up their deck chairs, packed up the supplies and gone home - taking with them a sense of "job well done".

But is the war over. Well, according to Donald Rumsfeld, those of us who discuss the after effects are like "Henny Penny, the sky's falling, the sky's falling". This great man of peace then goes on to tell us "its not". Yes, he was referring to the (lack??) of looting and violence and for once he did get it right by pointing to the "same 20 images" being shown over and over again. But I remember watching the coverage of 911 too.

But we don't talk about the war in polite circles any more.

We don't talk about the boy whose arms were liberated along with his mother and father's entire bodies. We don't talk about the children orphaned or the widows made homeless. We don't talk about the depleted uranium scattered about the cities of Basra, Tikrit or Baghdad.

We don't talk out the war in polite circles.

We don't talk about the war now. We discuss "rebuilding" Iraq. Having "liberated" so many Iraqis of the their livelihoods or lives, we now are being asked to support the US as it "assists" in the process. Firstly the US hawks proposed Jay Garner. A pro-Israeli soldier whose biography will probably talk about his exploits in assisting the Israeli ruling classes establish one of the most effective killing machines in the world. Then their is Ahmed Chalabi, a man who single handedly destroyed Jordan's economy then fled in the boot of friend's car. What Cheney, Downer, Straw wont tell us is that he was sentenced in absentia to 22 years jail for embezzlement and fraud.

But, in polite circles we don't talk about the war.

We don't talk about the human suffering - on both sides let's remember. Soldiers, most of them young men and women will be traumatised for life.
Sure at the moment they talk about the "rush" of killing innocent civilians.

But I wonder how many of them will suffer later?

What has intrigued me is that while we see the images of looting (which all sides are denying is taking place), we don't hear to much about the meetings that are being conducted to carve up the spoils. We do hear that the US is going to cut out as many competitors as it can and may open up some contracts to other countries. However, how many have thought about the fact that Iraq will be the first state rebuilt as a private enterprise. No longer will it be a liberal, secular Islamic state (as Australia is a liberal, Christian state) but it will Iraq Inc. Owned by a range of the largest multinational corporations. I mean for other reason would they appoint as the "head of security" Jay Garner and as treasure a bloke who as "form".

But we don't talk about the war.

I caught a snippet of a news report that said Australia was well placed to win health care contracts in the new Iraq Inc. If our own health system is the model upon which the Iraqi franchise will be built, I pity the Iraqis. Decreased services, longer queues, higher costs, higher mortality rates for general patients admitted with non threatening conditions (don't read about that on the front pages do we), overworked and underpaid general staff. Then again, they wont have to change much will they.

But we don't talk about the war.

And so it goes. The war is over and I and millions of others got it wrong. I think not.

The war is only just beginning. This time it will be fought over the carcass of a once proud, educated, sophisticated nation. Sure the war machine will move on to another battle front to wreak its havoc, death and mayhem but as Iraq is the most prominent battle field it is imperative that we don't think for a moment that the war is over.

But we don't talk about the war.

We talk instead about rebuilding the economy. We talk about the new opportunities that await the Iraqi people now that they have been liberated
(limb by limb in many cases).

I guess we have to ask whether being liberated to buy McDonalds, Coke, Madonna videos, Starbucks coffee, Nike shoes, to purchase tickets to
Hollywood block busters ( I wonder if Sly Stallone's career options suddenly look up) or stocks and bonds is really liberation after all.

Of course the war is not over. We have to have the war crimes trials. We have to demonstrate to the "rogue states", those of us who live in "democracies", that we wont tolerate those who invade sovereign nations or sponsor terrorists or fund illegal occupations or whose rulers steal power or lie to their people... Oh, we don't talk about the war.